RAS-KB: The Blog
Dear members and friends of RAS Korea,
March is here and I hope that many of you will sign up for one or other of our excursions, now that the weather is warmer. It is such a good way of discovering Korea, in good company with enthusiastic guides! We are still working to improve our program, but for the moment here are the lectures, excursions and other events planned for the coming weeks.
As you may know, our office staff has changed several times over the past couple of years. As a result, our membership records are not fully reliable. We would like to check whether all paid-up members have received their membership card and we ask all our members to bring and show their RASKB membership card at the lectures in the coming months. This will help us improve our administration.
Our office is now completely transformed and offers a large variety of books about Korea for sale, many of them unobtainable elsewhere. In addition to RASKB publications, we now stock and sell most of the books published by Seoul Selection. RAS members receive a discount on book purchases.
Also in the office is our Library, its books are accessible to members wishing to consult them. Please phone before coming to the office, in order to check the opening hours.
Please tell us what other activities you would like us to offer, and take full advantage of the benefits of membership by coming on excursions at a discounted rate!
I look forward to seeing you soon
President, RAS Korea
Dear members and friends of the RASKB,
The cold weather is nearly over, spring is on the way at last!
Soon we will be sending out our full March program but first let me remind you of this this week's events.
Tomorrow, Tuesday February 26, at 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace, Jacco Zwetsloot will be giving a lecture
on "The Long-Forgotten World War II Prisoner of War Camps in Korea" which should be extremely interesting,
for almost nobody knows that approximately 1,500 Allied Prisoners of War were held in Korea during the Pacific War.
On Friday March 1, RAS Korea traditionally runs a bus to visit the memorial to Admiral Yi Sun-Shin at Onyang
then on to visit the nearby Independence Hall and museum, dedicated to the Koreans who suffered during the
Independence Struggle against the Japanese. If you want to join this excursion, please reply to this email very soon,
by Tuesday evening at the latest.
On Saturday March 2 at 4:45pm some of us will meet at exit 2 of Hongik University subway station
and go to meet a very famous senior Korean traditional musician, Kim Young-Jae, who holds "Living Treasure" status
for his skills on the Geomungo, and who also performs on the Gayageum, the Ajaeng and the Haegeum.
He will play for us and explain the characteristics of each instrument. After the performance we will go with him
for supper in a nearby restaurant. Please sign up for this visit quickly, it is free for RAS members!
For more details of these, please see our home page
This lecture will examine Korea - as seen through the eyes of Sally Sill, the wife of John M. B. Sill - the American Minister to Korea (1894–1897). Their stay in Seoul was during an extremely turbulent period of Korean history, a span of time that encompassed the Sino-Japanese War, the Gabo Reforms, the murder of the Korean queen, and King Gojong's subsequent refuge in the Russian legation.
Through the use of numerous pictures and the personal correspondences between the Sills in Korea and their family in the United States we will take a candid look of life in not only the American community in Seoul, but also in the Russian legation, where King Gojong and the crown prince sought refuge following the murder of Queen Min. We will also examine the rumors and speculation that plagued the daily lives of not only the Western community in Seoul but the Korean community as well.
Robert Neff is a writer and historical researcher of the Joseon era. He has authored or co-authored several books including "Korea Through Western Eyes", "Westerner's Life in Joseon" and his newest book, "Letters from Joseon" - which this lecture is based upon.
On February 16th, the Royal Asiatic Society visited the DMZ and Cheowon to see Korean War remains and migratory birds. Our guide, Robert Koehler, introduced this area to many first-time visitors and shared his expertise of not only Cheorwon but also the history of the Korean War.
What sets this are apart from other areas of the DMZ is its location around Cheorwon, a place that was home to some of the fiercest fighting during the Korean War. As part of the Iron Triangle, the old city of Cheorwon was completely destroyed by artillery and advancing/retreating soldiers. All that remains of the city are a few building frames that miraculously were spared during the war. In fact, the local headquarters of the Workers Party of Korea (North Korea’s ruling party), a few stones that were once a church and the remains of a police station are all that is left of this city. Most, if not all, of the trees and other plants were destroyed during the fighting and were only replanted during the 1970s.
What made Cheorwon a magnet for fighting is its location and importance as a place where tanks and soldiers can move without mountains impairing their journey. Standing on top of the Peace Observatory (directly behind the DMZ) and looking at the flat ground that is now part of the DMZ, one can truly appreciate the importance this area held as an invasion route to Seoul.
Aside from remains of the former town, visitors to Cheorwon can also see some great scenery and many migratory birds. Located in Cheorwon is the Seungil Bridge, sometimes called “Korea’s Bridge over the River Kwai.” There are many stories about who built it, with the most popular being that the bridge was started by the North and finished by the South Koreans. However, it was recently discovered that the bridge was started by the Japanese and later finished by the US Army during the war.
The area north of the line of civilian control is also a great place to spot birds during their winter journey. I was able to see many of these birds and many people enjoy taking pictures. We also enjoyed seeing some of the beautful scenery around the area.
This area did have a somber feeling surrounding it and, when you saw the remains of the city, you couldn’t help but take a moment of silence. Newly married couples once walked up the steps leading up to what is left of the church. Visiting Cheorwon will give you not only the chance to see the cost of the Korean War to the people who lived but also the chance to see how its results are still impacting Korea.
Pictures and article by Patrick Wunderlich
By Brother Anthony, president of the RAS Korea. More information about the early history of the RAS can be found here.
Probably the most admired by later generations of Koreans, for his support of Korean autonomy, Homer Bezaleel Hulbert was born on January 26, 1863 in New Haven, Vermont, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1884, then entered Union Theological College. While he was studying there, the Korean government announced plans to establish a school in Seoul teaching English and asked the American government to send teachers. As a result, Homer B. Hulbert arrived in Korea in 1886 with a few others to act as “professor” in the Royal English School, where the sons of high officials were to learn English. However, seeing no future in his role as teacher of a narrow-minded elite with no interest in English, he left Korea at the end of 1891.
Appenzeller encouraged Hulbert to return as a member of the Methodist mission. The Methodists had established the Trilingual Press in Seoul, at the time in question under the management of the Rev. Franklin Ohlinger. In the summer of 1893, Ohlinger left for Singapore and Hulbert was invited to replace him at the press. He felt that his knowledge of Hangul would enable the Press to produce the general educational materials the country urgently needed. So he returned to Korea in 1894 to take charge of what was already a major printing house and in the years that followed he worked hard to improve its equipment. Early in 1892, encouraged by George Heber Jones, the Ohlingers had begun to produce the monthly Korean Repository, and although it was not published for one year after their departure, it was published again from 1895-8, with Appenzeller and George Heber Jones as co-editors. Hulbert became its editorial manager by virtue of his position at the Press and began to contribute articles about aspects of Korean culture and life.
In 1897, the King decided that Korea needed to train teachers who would teach in the western-style schools that were to be established across the country. He asked Hulbert to serve as the Principal of the Royal Normal School and prepare the necessary textbooks. Hulbert therefore passed management of the Trilingual Press (and the Repository) to another Methodist missionary, D. A. Bunker, who had formerly taught at the English School and was now head of the English Department at Pai Chai. Soon after the Royal Normal School was founded, its name changed to the Imperial Normal School with the proclamation of the Daehan Empire in the autumn of 1897. Later it became known as the Imperial Middle School.
In 1901 Homer Hulbert founded The Korea Review, which was very similar in format and scope to the Korean Repository. However, the editorial policy of the Review was perhaps more strongly oriented by its editor’s vision than the Repository had been. His main ideas included the affirmation that Koreans were capable of the highest achievements but oppressed by ignorance; therefore widespread education conducted in Hangul was essential. The most controversial idea, one that he nourished almost to the end, was an idealistic view of Japan as a source and model of enlightenment and social progress, to which he opposed the Russian model of autocracy and stagnation.
Hulbert’s positive vision of Japan prior to 1905 and some other of his ideas, as well his relatively outspoken manner of writing, were strongly opposed by another of the founders of the RASKB, the American diplomat Dr. Horace N. Allen. Allen was increasingly convinced that Russian domination in Korea would be better than a Japanese takeover, and his conflict with Hulbert reached a peak during the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904 - September 1905), during which Hulbert continued to maintain an idealistically pro-Japanese position in the Review, only criticizing the negative activities and attitudes toward Korea of individual Japanese. Allen’s support for Russia displeased the State Department in Washington, who strongly supported Japan, and perhaps led to his being recalled in 1905.
Throughout the same period, Korean ministers acting without the King’s permission were signing a series of treaties with Japan, a process that would culminate in the notorious Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905, also known as the Eulsa Treaty, signed by just five ministers on November 17, 1905. This gave Japan complete responsibility for Korea’s foreign affairs, and placed all trade through Korean ports under Japanese supervision, in effect making Korea a protectorate of Japan.
It was not until the September 1905 issue of the Korea Review that Hulbert finally denounced plainly the Japanese plans for reducing Korea to a protectorate. Then, early in October, he left for the United States, secretly carrying a letter for the American President signed by the Emperor, asking the United States to prevent Japan from taking control of Korea. At the time, nobody in Korea knew of the conversations that had been held late in July 1905 between the Japanese prime-minister Katsura Taro and the United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft, during which the American encouraged the Japanese plans to take full control of Korea.
Hulbert arrived in Washington at almost exactly the same moment as the Korean foreign minister signed the Eulsa Treaty in Seoul, which the Japanese claimed was sufficient to ratify it. The pro-Japanese American government therefore refused to accept the Emperor’s letter, claiming that the ratification of the Treaty was a matter of fact, even though the Emperor himself had not signed it. After trying in vain to alert American public opinion through the press, which was also largely sympathetic to the Japanese, Hulbert returned to Korea in the summer of 1906. By the time he returned, all the foreign legations in Seoul had been reduced to the level of consulates.
When Hulbert returned to Korea in 1906, the Emperor immediately asked him to prepare to go as his ambassador to the nations due to attend the Second International Peace Conference to be held in The Hague in June 1907. His task was to contact the major powers, asking them to support the independence of Korea. His role was to be secret, behind the scenes, and in April 1907 the Emperor secretly appointed three Korean representatives. They were all unable to gain access to the conference and Hulbert left The Hague only a day or so before the Emperor was forced to abdicate on July 19, 1907. He was succeeded by his feeble fourth son, who became known as the Yunghui Emperor, or Sunjong. On July 24 1907 the new ruler signed over control of the country’s internal administration to Japan. On 22 August, 1910, the Empire of Daehan was annexed by Japan under the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, a final formality.
Hulbert knew that he could never again live in Korea. He made a final visit to Seoul in the autumn of 1909. He was there when the Korean patriot An Jung-geun assassinated the former Japanese premier Ito Hirobumi in Harbin in October. A year before, in March 1908, Korean nationalist patriots had assassinated Durham White Stevens in San Francisco. Stevens had been an American diplomat stationed in Japan since 1873 then became a Japanese diplomat in 1883. In November 1904, Stevens was appointed as adviser to the Korean Foreign Office. He was intensely pro-Japanese and advocated the annexation. Previously, in July 1907, an attempt had been made by some Koreans to murder George Heber Jones for having praised the Japanese police for putting down a nationalistic demonstration. All these violent expressions of Korean resistance only served to drive the foreign community in Korea, whether missionaries or diplomats, towards stronger support for Japan, since they reinforced the feeling that Koreans were a violent, anarchic people incapable of governing themselves. Hulbert continued to support Korea's wish for independence in various ways throughout his life. In 1949 he finally returned to Korea, by train across Russia, and died a week after his arrival.
Books etc by Hulbert available online
Homer B. Hulbert (editor) The Korea Review, Volume 5 (1905)
Hulbert, H.B. Itu.
The Korean Repository, Vol.V (February, 1898), pp.47-54.
By Brother Anthony, president Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
The origional piece can be found here.
Born in Canada 150 years ago, James Gale was one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch in 1900.
He first arrived in Korea in 1888, and studied Korean and Classical Chinese intensively. He and Mark Napier Trollope were two of the leading scholar-missionaries of the period, together with Homer Hulbert, who was forced to leave Korea in 1909.
Gale gave the very first paper presentation in the RASKB’s history and served as its President in 1915, Vice-President 1923-7.
Richard Rutt published an extremely detailed biography of Gale filling the first 88 pages of his edition of Gale’s History of the Korean People (published by and available from RASKB).
The following outline biography is based on that in the pages about the Gale Archive in the Library of the University of Toronto. See also the Wikipedia entry that I have revised.
1863 Born February 19th in the village of Alma, Wellington County, Ontario to John and Miami (née Bradt) Gale.
Why Scarth? Gale's uncle Alexander, when he was studying in Aberdeen before moving to Canada, met and fell for a young lady, Margaret Scarth. Then he moved to Canada and received no response to his letters to her. Ten years later, she wrote to explain that the aunt she was living with had intercepted his letters,and she had found them after the aunt died. Alexander wrote back inviting her to join him in Canada, which she did. They had a son, whom they called James Scarth Gale, using the mother's maiden name as a middle name, a common practice. The talented son died of tuberculosis a little before our James was born, so he received the dead boy's name in memory of him.
1886 Spent the summer in Paris, studying French. He spent some time visiting London on the way to France but did not much enjoy either country.
1888 Graduated from University College at the University of Toronto with a B.A. in arts. Registered at Knox College to study theology, but instead left for Korea as a missionary volunteer with the YMCA.
1891 Joined the U.S.A. Presbyterian Mission in Korea.
1892 Married Hattie (née Gibson) Heron, widow of his friend, Dr. J.W. Heron, who had died in 1890.
From 1892-1897 the Gales lived in Wonsan while Gale served as member of the “Board of Official Translators” of the Korean Bible. He worked with Henry G. Appenzeller, Horace G. Underwood, William B. Scranton, and William D. Reynolds.
1894 Published Korean Grammatical Forms (Seoul: Trilingual Press)
1895 Published a Korean translation prepared by his wife and himself of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (Seoul: Trilingual Press) as 천로역정 天路歷程 with illustrations in archaic Sino-Korean style.
1897 Published Korean-English Dictionary (Yokohama: Kelby) and Korean Sketches (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell) . Spent one year in Washington, D.C. where he was ordained by the New Albany Presbytery.
1898 Returned to Korea.
1900 Mrs. Gale and her daughters went to Switzerland where they remained for six years.
1903 Travelled via the Trans-Siberian Railway to Switzerland where he spent six months. Wrote and published The Vanguard (New York: Fleming H. Revell) Received an honorary degree, Doctor of Divinity, from Howard University, Washington, D.C.
1906 Spent a year’s leave in Washington
1907 Returned to Korea with his family. Mrs. Gale became ill and died the following year.
1909 Published Korea in Transition (New York: Young People’s Missionary Movement of the United States and Canada)
1910 Married Ada Louise Sale, from England, who had grown up in Japan
1911 Birth of George James Marley Gale
1913 Published a. translation of tales by Im Bang and Yi Ryuk, Korean Folk Tales (London: J.M. Dent)
1917-1919 Edited (and wrote the contents of) the Korea Magazine, a monthly review, until just after the March 1 1919 Independence Movement, when it ceased to appear.
1918 Birth of Ada Alexandra Gale
1922 Published a translation of a work by Kim Man-Choong, The Cloud Dream of the Nine (London: Daniel O’Connor)
1924-6 Wrote his History of the Korean People, publishing it in installments in The Korea Mission Field.
1925 Published his Korean translation of the Bible prepared after rejecting the over-literal official versions.
1927 Retired from missionary work in Korea; went to live in Bath, England, his wife being British in origin.
1937 Died in Bath January 31st. Buried in Lansdown cemetery.
Korean Coolie. The Korean Repository, Vol.III (December, 1896), pp. 475-481.
Trip Across Northern Korea. The Korean Repository, Vol.IV (March,1897), pp. 81-89
The Influence of China upon Korea. I:1-24. 1900.
Han-Yang (Seoul). II, part Il:1-43. 1902.
The Korean Alphabet. IV, part I:12-61. 1912-13.
Selection and Divorce. IV, part III:17-22. 1913.
The Pagoda of Seoul. VI, part II:1-22. 1915.
The Diamond Mountains. XIII:1-67. 1922.
A Shipwreck (Korean) in 1636 A.D. XV:3-22. 1924.
Dear members of RAS Korea
The National Museum of Korea is continuing to offer us a special guided visit each month in 2013. Please send an email to email@example.com to sign up for the monthly tour. The tours will start at 7:00 PM and we will meet in the lobby of the National Museum (line 4, Ichon Station). See here for directions.
History in Glass: 3000 Years of Glassware from the Mediterranean and West Asia
Re-arranged Buddhist Sculpture Galleries (Permanent Exhibition)
The Peranakan World--a special exhibition
Buddhist Guardian Paintings of Late Joseon Period
A Painters Life: Kang Sehwang and His Literati Culture
Scholar's Studio, Sarangbang
Paintings of Joseon
Asian Religious Icons through Western Eyes
Insense Burners of Goryeo Dynasty
Silla, A Brilliant Country of Gold (Permanent Exhibition)
Taoism in Korea: Deities and Immortals
Dear members and friends of RAS Korea
It will soon be February and we hope it will soon be much warmer than it has been!
In February Korea marks the Lunar New Year, which this year falls on Sunday February 10. The RAS has traditionally offered a very special trip to beautiful Seoraksan, over on the East Coast, during this holiday. Koreans enjoy family gatherings and the rest of us find ourselves with free time and not much to do. Seoraksan offers fresh air, lovely scenery, warm accommodation and a magnificent spa / hot springs. Those who want to go walking will have plenty of time to do so, while others soak in hot baths. Why not join us, with your whole family? The hotel rooms are booked, the bus is ready. . . . By leaving Seoul early on the Sunday, February 10, the actual New Year's Day, we can be sure of quiet roads. By coming back on the Monday we can also be sure of reasonable traffic. Because with the holiday falling on a weekend, most people will take the Tuesday off as well! See: http://raskb.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=d6bd78bcc645d037366d2f5e...
Then on Saturday February 16 we are running an excursion to Cheorwon, to the north-east of Seoul. There we will visit historic remains witnessing to the tragedy of the Korean War and we hope that there will be large flocks of migratory birds in the fields, some of them very rare and hard to see. Our leader wiill be none other than Robert Koehler, author of the wonderful Seoul Selection guides "Seoul" and "Korea" He knows a lot about this area, it should be fascinating. See: http://raskb.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d6bd78bcc645d037366d2f5e4...
On Saturday February 23, we have planned a trip to visit the potteries at Icheon, not far from Seoul. By this time spring will be in the air, we will visit some famous pottery workshops and give participants a view of the pottery-making process as well as visiting stores with a wide range of work for sale. See: http://raskb.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d6bd78bcc645d037366d2f5e4...
Finally, on March 1 we traditionally organize a visit to Onyang and the nearby Independence Hall. Here we will see the shrine to Admiral Yi Sun-shin and the memorial museum to Korea's Independence Movement many of whose leaders came from this area.
Our lectures in February will be on Tuesday February 12, when Dong-jin Kim will talk about Homer B. Hulbert, and February 26 when Peter Bartholomew will tell us about Joseon dynasty architecture, explaining how and when so much of it has been destroyed, He has many wonderful photos of what once was there.
This year we will continue to offer members a once-a-month guided visit to a gallery in the National Museum of Korea. Please visit our home page http://raskb.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=d6bd78bcc645d037366d2f5e... e=e673079159 or send an email replying to this message for more details.
I hope to welcome many of you at one or other or all these events.
With my best wishes
Lecturer: Professor Sheen Dae-Cheol (Academy of Korean Studies)
Korean Traditional Music can be broadly classified as either Jeongak or Minsogak. The first term means “right music” or classical music and it includes court and literati music. The second covers folk music. These two genres of music possess many musical characteristics and beauties in common. However, the basic musical aesthetic is quite different in each. The first category does not allow the expression of immoderate musical emotions when it is performed or sung, whereas the second expresses musical emotions very freely. Naturally, Jeongak and Minsogak can each boast of its own typical aesthetic style, calm beauty in the first, dynamic beauty in the second. Because of this aesthetic difference between Jeongak and Minsogak, all the beauties of curved lines, musical dots by percussions, vocalism or singing styles, Jangdan (rhythmic patterning) and other techniques characteristic of Korean traditional music produce very distinct flavors in the performance of each.
Korea is often called the ‘Land of Morning Calm’ yet it has also recently been publicized as ‘Dynamic Korea’. Tonight’s lecture operates using these two metaphors. Both images can be found in Korea’s traditional music, ‘calmness’ in Jeongak and ‘dynamics’ in Minsogak. In other words, drawn from Western aesthetic theory, it could be said that ‘Apollonian’ and ‘Dionysian’ characteristics can be found in Jeongak and Minsogak respectively. One of the easiest shortcuts to understanding, appreciating and enjoying Korean traditional music is to be able to recognize and feel these aesthetic differences between Jeongak and Minsogak.
Professor Sheen Dae-Cheol started his musical career as a choir boy. He graduated from the National Junior and Senior High School of Korean Traditional Music then received his BA and MA in Korean Traditional Music from Seoul National University. He holds a Ph.D. in Korean Traditional Music from the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS). He has served as a researcher of the Korea Culture and Arts Foundation and as Secretary-General of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology (APSE). After a time as Professor at Kangnung National University, he is currently a Professor of AKS Graduate School. He has been Director of the Center for Information on Korean Culture and Chair of Global Forum on Civilization & Peace for AKS and was an Executive Board Member of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM). He was one of the co-founders of the ICTM study group Music of East Asia, of which he was a board member and a program committee member. He is currently President of the Korean Musicological Society. He has published many books and articles, including the books Korean Traditional Music, Its Flavor and Tone Color, and Traditional Music of North Korea.
On January 19, 2013, members and friends of the RAS Korea met for a new excursion led by Mr. Jun Shin. During the five hours, participants visited many historical relics near Dongguk University including Supyogyo Stone Bridge, the statue of Samyeong (Buddhist monk during the Imjin War who organized monk soldiers) and Jeonggakwon temple.
Keeping with the theme of “Korean spirituality through Buddha, Buddhism and Seon, we visited the International Seon Center at Donnguk University and listened to a presentation by Glenn Mullin about mediation and Buddhism. The lecture lasted for just under two hours and included many interesting stories about, Buddhist philosophies and the Buddhist mindset for dealing with difficult and troubling times. Many participants enjoyed this time and had the opportunity to ask many questions.
After listening to Lama Glenn Mullin’s presentation, the group visited the Buddhist Museum of Dongguk University. The museum curator graciously showed us around the museum and gave a detailed explanation of the pieces. Usually the museum is closed on Saturday but the curator opened it for the RAS excursion. Everyone who attended the tour was very grateful for this kind gesture.
Overall the tour was interesting and informative while remaining fun and understandable to the general traveler. Thanks to Mr. Jun Shin and the RAS Korea who made the tour happen.